Introduction to Raised Strawberry Beds:
There are plenty of ways to go about growing strawberries in your garden, in this particular article we are going to discuss growing them in raised planting beds. There are a number of reasons why you might want to use raised beds for your strawberries, not the least of which is saving a little wear and tear on your back by elevating the plants up to a more workable height.
Other reasons for using raised garden beds is the ability to get around poor soil conditions you might have to use otherwise. While you can absolutely correct most inadequate soil conditions by tilling in various amendments, depending on your issue, raised gardens allow you to fill the planting area with the precise growing medium you are looking for. In the case of raised strawberry beds, that growing medium would be one that drains well and is rich in organic matter. For the most part any high quality potting soil mixed with a little perlite will get the job done nicely!
Planning Your Raised Strawberry Beds:
The first thing you need to do before you do any building or planting with raised strawberry beds, is to decide where the beds are actually going to go. Now some of you out there might read that statement and wonder why I even bother to suggest such a common sense thing, but you would be surprised at how many gardens fail simply because the location that was chosen was a poor one. The right location can make or break any garden, whether you are growing strawberries or anything else.
Strawberries are actually pretty easy to grow in most climate and soil conditions, however the whole point behind building a raised garden bed is to create the ideal growing conditions. So the first thing you need to do is find a site that gets about 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Anything less than that and you should rethink your strawberry plans. You should also make sure that your location is within easy reach of a water source such as a garden hose. Strawberries are very thirsty plants and you will inevitably need to supplement what Mother Nature provides. All the other growing conditions you can create on your own.
Materials for Building Raised Strawberry Beds:
Once you have a site selected, the next step is actually building raised strawberry beds. I've heard a lot of people say that they are daunted by raised beds because they aren't "handy" with tools or don't have the money to invest. You don't have to be a carpenter to build the boxes, and you sure don't have to be rich to pick up the materials. There are numerous ways to go about building raised beds and we actually covered them in depth in another article on this site entitled "Building Raised Garden Beds". You can find it on our sitemap page.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that you are using the tried and true method of good old pressure treated lumber. Now you are going to have to decide how deep you want your boxes to be. At a minimum you are going to want 6 or 8 inches, but I always suggest to people that they go bigger than they think they actually need. You might want to grow strawberries for a couple years, but if that wears off you, you may find yourself reusing these boxes for other plants down the road. So I always suggest gardeners at least consider a 10 or 12 inch deep box.
Constructing Raised Strawberry Beds:
Once you have chosen a depth for your raised strawberry beds, go out to your local lumber yard and purchase two 8 foot sections of pressure treated lumber, 2x8 (if you chose 8 inch depth), 2x10 (for 10 inch depth), etc…and a dozen or so 2 inch long deck screws. 8 foot lumber will be a hair over 8 feet long to account for cutting, so two of these cut exactly in half will make a nice 4 foot by 4 foot box. I highly suggest you keep at least one dimension of the box at 4 feet so that you can reach every square inch of the box without ever having to set foot inside the box. If you have to walk into the planting area, then your raised beds are too big and it defeats the purpose.
Once you have the lumber cut in half, place the end of one against the face of another, and run at least 3 screws through the opposite face, into the end of the other board. Attach the next section to the other end, opposite of the first. Ie. Each length of wood will have one end open, and one end against another board. With 4 equal length pieces of lumber, this will give you a square box.
Planting Your Raised Strawberry Beds:
Once you have your box built, set it in place and make sure it is completely level in each direction. This may involve removing some of the existing dirt to get the box flat. This is very important so don't cheat! If your box is not level soil will run to the low side when watered and run right out of your box. Then mix a good quality potting soil with a little perlite for drainage, as well as an organic all purpose fertilizer, and fill the entire box.
When planting your new raised strawberry beds, try to leave 15 to 18 inches between the plants so they don’t crowd each other out. On a 4 foot box with a plant in each corner, this comes to no more than 3 plants across. You can even plant an outer row of 3, a middle row of 2 offset, and another outer row of 3. That amounts to one less plant per box, but it gives your strawberries a bit more room to spread out and fill the box with less wasted growing space.
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